My first college summer, I participated in a program called Climate Summer. This program sends teams of students across New England by bicycle to organize around climate change in each town they visit. I signed up because I was looking for an adventure, new friends, new skills, and a summer outside.
I packed everything I would carry with me on my bike in two small bike bags, affixed my bike with new thingamajigs that would help me survive the summer on a bike, and drove to orientation, nervous but excited (coincidentally, drove with someone who is now a Repair the World staff member!). I had no idea that I was about to embark on a life-changing, transformative journey.
Climate Summer was a turning point for me for two reasons. First, I actually realized what climate change was really about, including how hotter climates have a particularly dangerous impact on those most vulnerable in our world.
A hotter climate means more natural disasters, the lives lost and destroyed during them and the economic hardships that follow; drought and food shortages; more wildfires; sea-level rise and the accompanying displacement of hundreds of millions of people, and entire countries under water or unlivable; increase health risks and diseases; more violence and conflicts. Essentially, it threatens to worsen all the injustices and social issues we already face, and create new ones, with the most vulnerable bearing the heaviest burden.
Luckily, the second thing I learned was that I – we – could so something about it. We could get involved and work towards a better future. To address a problem as urgent and vast as climate change, we need an equally strong movement. Historically, that’s how social change has happened, and that’s how it has to happen again. That’s what I became part of during climate summer, a movement of people fighting for a planet that we can live on.